Jump to content
DIPLONEWS
  • Don't miss DGL at 8PM EST rotating Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Diplo is getting an Ark server contact Duck for more information.
  • Want to play Dungeons and Dragons? Join D^3 to play now!
  • Want to watch movies with Diplo? Contact BaneBladeLuv for more info on movie night!

Baledwyr

Administrators
  • Content Count

    23,850
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    51

Baledwyr last won the day on October 27

Baledwyr had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

1,284 Excellent

About Baledwyr

Recent Profile Visitors

605 profile views
  1. WORLD NEWS DECEMBER 12, 2018 / 6:53 AM / UPDATED AN HOUR AGO China says detained Canadian may have broken foreign NGO law BEIJING (Reuters) - If International Crisis Group (ICG) employee Michael Kovrig was carrying out “relevant activities” for the group in China without it being registered, then he may have broken China’s foreign NGO law, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday. Ministry spokesman Lu Kang made the comments at a daily news briefing in Beijing. The ICG said on Wednesday it had received no information from Chinese officials about the detention of its employee, Canadian citizen Kovrig, and that it was seeking consular access to him. The ICG, which focuses on conflict resolution, said in a statement sent to Reuters that Kovrig was detained by state security officials in Beijing on Monday night. Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
  2. OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government has contacted Chinese authorities about the detention of a sometime Canadian diplomat in China at a time of intensifying tensions between the two countries. Trudeau spoke briefly to reporters Tuesday about the unexplained case of Michael Kovrig, an international-affairs analyst who worked as a political lead for the prime minister's official visit to Hong Kong in 2016 when he was posted there by the Canadian government. "We have been in direct contact with ... Chinese diplomats and representatives," Trudeau said in Ottawa. "We are engaged on the file, which we take very seriously and we are, of course, providing consular assistance to the family." Read the court documents in the Meng Wanzhou case News of Kovrig's detention comes after China warned Canada of consequences for its recent arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver's airport. A Vancouver judge released her on bail and under strict conditions Tuesday afternoon. So far, it's unclear whether there is any link between the two cases, though a former Canadian ambassador says he has little doubt of it. "It's clear that China is trying to put as much pressure as possible on the Canadian government to force us to return Ms. Meng to China," said Guy Saint-Jacques, a career diplomat who was Canada's ambassador to China from 2012 to 2016. "I can tell you that based on my 13 years of experience in China, there are no coincidences... The Chinese government wanted to send us a message." Saint-Jacques said Kovrig wanted to stay in China beyond his assignment. "At the end of his posting, he told me he loved China, he loved the Chinese people," Saint-Jacques said. He said he advised Kovrig to take an unpaid leave from the diplomatic corps so he could return to it someday if he wanted to. Kovrig has been working for the International Crisis Group since February 2017 as its senior adviser for northeast Asia. One of his colleagues wrote in a short email that the organization had few details about his detention. Watch: What is controversial about Huawei? "We are doing everything possible to secure additional information on Michael's whereabouts as well as his prompt and safe release," said a statement from the group, which states its goals are to prevent wars and help shape policies to promote peace. Active diplomats can be expelled by a host country fairly easily but arresting and holding one would be extraordinary. "In this case, it's getting as close to that as possible," Saint-Jacques said. "Clearly, they wanted to catch the attention of everyone in Ottawa." Kovrig's experience means he'll know what to expect. "He knows that the Chinese will put him through the process with interrogations and staying in a cell with probably 20 other people... He knows he is in for a tough time," Saint-Jacques said. The former ambassador said he expected retaliation after Meng's arrest. Cancelled official visits, aborted contracts perhaps. "But to escalate that to that level, at this stage, took me a bit by surprise," he said. He said the Canadian government must seek clarity on whether Kovrig is accused of something specific yet and should explain to the Chinese that "we must find ways to lower the temperature because this could get out of control very rapidly."
  3. We have a Finnish member on diplo now. I spoke to him on discord a week ago. Cool guy. Likes alcohol.
  4. WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would intervene with the U.S. Justice Department in the case against a Chinese telecommunications executive if it would help secure a trade deal with Beijing. “If I think it’s good for the country, if I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made – which is a very important thing – what’s good for national security – I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary,” Trump said in a wide-ranging interview with Reuters in the Oval Office. At the request of U.S. authorities, Huawei Technologies Co. executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested earlier this month in Vancouver on charges of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. The arrest came the same day Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping declared a 90-day truce in their trade war during summit talks in Buenos Aires. Trump, who wants China to open up its markets to more American-made products and stop what Washington calls the theft of intellectual property, said he had not yet spoken to Xi about the case against Huawei’s executive. Meng, 46, faces U.S. accusations she misled multinational banks about Huawei’s control of a company operating in Iran, putting the banks at risk of violating U.S. sanctions and incurring severe penalties, court documents said. If extradited to the United States, Meng would face charges of conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions. A Canadian court on Tuesday granted bail Meng while she awaits an extradition hearing. Trump, who has made sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program a signature part of his foreign policy, was asked whether Meng could be released. “Well, it’s possible that a lot of different things could happen. It’s also possible it will be a part of negotiations. But we’ll speak to the Justice Department, we’ll speak to them, we’ll get a lot of people involved,” he said. Asked if he would like to see Meng extradited to the United States, Trump said he wanted to first see what the Chinese request. He added, however, that Huawei’s alleged practices are troubling. “This has been a big problem that we’ve had in so many different ways with so many companies from China and from other places,” he said. In the wake of his meeting with Xi in Buenos Aires, Trump said during the interview that trade talks with Beijing were underway by telephone, with more meetings likely among U.S. and Chinese officials. He said the Chinese government was once again buying large quantities of U.S. soybeans, a reversal after China in July imposed tariffs on U.S. supplies of the oilseed in retaliation for U.S. duties on Chinese goods. “I just heard today that they’re buying tremendous amounts of soybeans. They are starting, just starting now,” Trump said. Commodity traders in Chicago, however, said they have seen no evidence of a resumption of soybean purchases by China, which last year bought about 60 percent of U.S. soybean exports in deals valued at more than $12 billion. Reporting By Steve Holland, Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton; editing by Kieran Murray and Paul Thomasch Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-china-huawei/canadian-court-weighs-bail-for-jailed-cfo-of-chinas-huawei-idUSKBN1OA02Z PERSONAL COMMENT: Do what I want or the girl gets it.
  5. Lalala! I'm not listening.
  6. LONDON (Reuters) - Parliament’s vote on British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal will go ahead on Dec. 11, her office said on Thursday, despite a newspaper report ministers had sought a delay to prevent a defeat so big it might bring down the government. May has repeatedly said if lawmakers reject her deal with Brussels, which would see Britain exit the EU on March 29 with continued close ties, the only alternatives are leaving without a deal or reversing Brexit. The British parliament is mid-way through a five-day debate on the Brexit deal, ahead of the vote which will define Britain’s departure from the EU and could determine May’s future as leader. She looks set to lose that vote. The Times newspaper reported that senior ministers were urging May to delay it for fear of a rout. “The vote will take place on Tuesday as planned,” May’s spokeswoman said. The House of Commons leader, Andrea Leadsom, also told parliament the vote would go ahead on Dec. 11. The day before the vote, on Dec. 10, the EU’s top court will deliver a judgment on whether Britain can unilaterally halt Brexit. EU negotiator Michel Barnier said on Thursday the deal was the best Britain will get, while British finance minister Philip Hammond said it was “simply a delusion” to think the agreement could be renegotiated if parliament rejects it. May used an interview on BBC radio to press on with her bid to persuade lawmakers to back her deal. “There are three options: one is to leave the European Union with a deal ... the other two are that we leave without a deal or that we have no Brexit at all,” she said. In one potential concession, May said she recognised that there were concerns among lawmakers about the so-called Northern Irish backstop and she was looking at whether parliament could be given a greater role in deciding whether to trigger it. “I am talking to colleagues about how we can look at parliament having a role in going into that and, if you like, coming out of that,” she said. CHARM OFFENSIVE? Worries about the backstop are a driver of opposition to the deal among both May’s own Conservative lawmakers and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which props up her minority government. Supporters of a clean break with the EU say the backstop, intended to ensure no hard border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland, could leave Britain forced to accept EU regulations indefinitely, or Northern Ireland treated differently from the rest of the United Kingdom. Legal advice the government was forced to publish on Wednesday warned there was a risk Britain could get stuck in “protracted and repeating rounds of negotiations” to reach a deal to supersede the backstop. May’s critics, including both supporters and opponents of Brexit, say that means Britain could be subject to EU laws long after it has given up any influence over determining them. Former foreign minister and leading Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson said May was wrong to say parliament might be able to choose whether to trigger the backstop or extend a transition period, under which more EU membership terms would apply. “This is simply not possible. Under her deal the EU has the legal right to stop us extending the transition and make us enter the backstop - whatever the PM or parliament says,” he said on Twitter. On Wednesday, May’s parliamentary enforcer, or chief whip, Julian Smith, spent an hour meeting pro-Brexit Conservative and DUP lawmakers, listening to their concerns about the deal. But lawmakers who attended the meeting said he did not offer a solution to persuade them to back it. “This was not about doing deals, it was about listening,” said one leading pro-Brexit lawmaker. Another said it was: “Too little, too late.” During the first two days of debate, at least 15 of May’s own lawmakers explicitly said they intend to vote against the deal, and British media have speculated that as many as 100 could ultimately rebel. May will either need to win them back or persuade a substantial number of opposition lawmakers to support the deal, which appears unlikely. Additional reporting by William James in London and Alastair Macdonald in Brussels; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Janet Lawrence Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu/brexit-vote-to-go-ahead-despite-report-ministers-seek-delay-idUSKBN1O511O PERSONAL COMMENT: Hard leave. Live with the pain. Rebuild an economy that doesn't need Europe. Reestablish commerce with the Commonwealth... ...Begin shelling French fishing vessels.
  7. Baledwyr

    Bors's Free Expo

    21:30 hrs US time.
  8. Baledwyr

    The Random Picture

  9. Hey man, unsolicited dick pics are never cool.
  10. London learning a lesson from Moscow! Pah!
  11. (Reuters) - Facebook Inc (FB.O) let some companies, including Netflix (NFLX.O) and Airbnb, access users’ lists of friends after it cut off that data for most other apps around 2015, according to documents released on Wednesday by a British lawmaker investigating fake news and social media. (Reuters) - Facebook Inc (FB.O) let some companies, including Netflix (NFLX.O) and Airbnb, access users’ lists of friends after it cut off that data for most other apps around 2015, according to documents released on Wednesday by a British lawmaker investigating fake news and social media. A man poses with a magnifier in front of a Facebook logo on display in this illustration taken in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo The 223 pages of internal communication from 2012 to 2015 between high-level employees, including founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, provide new evidence of previously aired contentions that Facebook has picked favorites and engaged in anti-competitive behavior. The documents show that Facebook tracked growth of competitors and denied them access to user data available to others. In 2014, the company identified about 100 apps as being either “Mark’s friends” or “Sheryl’s friends” and also tracked how many apps were spending money on Facebook ads, according to the documents, referring to Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. The insight into the thinking of Facebook executives over that period could invite new regulatory scrutiny into its business practices. Facebook said it stood by its deliberations and decisions, but noted that it would relax one “out-of-date” policy that restricted competitors’ use of its data. One document said such competitor apps had previously needed Zuckerberg’s approval before using tools Facebook makes available to app developers. Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Wednesday that the company could have prevented the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal had it cracked down on app developers a year earlier in 2014. Misuse of Facebook user data by Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, along with another data breach this year and revelations about Facebook’s lobbying tactics have heightened government scrutiny globally on the company’s privacy and content moderation practices. Stifel analysts on Wednesday lowered their rating on Facebook shares to “hold,” saying that “political and regulatory blowback seems like it may lead to restrictions on how Facebook operates, over time.” Damian Collins, a Conservative British parliamentarian who leads a committee on media and culture, made the internal documents public after demanding them last month under threat of sanction from Six4Three. The defunct app developer obtained them as part of its ongoing lawsuit in California state court alleging that Facebook violated promises to app developers when it ended their access to likes, photos and other data of users’ friends in 2015. Facebook, which has described the Six4Three case as baseless, said the released communications were “selectively leaked” and it defended its practices. ‘WHITELISTED’ FOR ACCESS TO FRIENDS DATA Though filed under seal and redacted in the lawsuit, the internal communications needed to be made public because “they raise important questions about how Facebook treats users’ data, their policies for working with app developers, and how they exercise their dominant position in the social media market,” Collins said on Twitter. Dating app Badoo and ride-hailing app Lyft were among other companies 'whitelisted' for access to data about users' friends, the documents here showed. Lyft wanted to show carpool riders their mutual friends as an “ice breaker,” even if those friends were not using Lyft, according to one email. Facebook said in an email that it approved the request because it would add to a feeling of “safety” for riders. Facebook described such deals as short-term extensions, but it is unclear exactly when the various agreements ended. Netflix, Airbnb, Lyft and Badoo did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The documents show an exchange between Zuckerberg and senior executive Justin Osofsky in 2013, in which they decided to stop giving friends’ list access to Vine on the day that social media rival Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) launched the video-sharing service. “We’ve prepared reactive PR,” Osofsky wrote, to which Zuckerberg replied, “Yup, go for it.” Twitter declined to comment. Friends’ data had stoked the growth of many apps because it enabled people to easily connect with Facebook buddies on a new service. Facebook weighed charging other apps for access to its developer tools, including the friends lists, if they did not buy a certain amount of advertising from Facebook, according to the emails. In one from 2012, Zuckerberg wrote that he was drawing inspiration for business models from books he had been reading about the banking industry. Facebook said it ultimately maintained free access to the tools. Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru and Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Bill Berkrot Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. PERSONAL COMMENT: Marks been getting ideas from the banking world...I expect to read headlines about loan shark facebook employes kneecapping people soon.
  12. SARAJEVO (Reuters) - The United States expects Macedonia to join NATO in mid-2020 by which time its name change deal with Greece should be fully implemented despite Russian efforts to undermine it, the top U.S. official for the Western Balkans said on Tuesday. Skopje’s agreement to change the country name to Republic of North Macedonia, ending perceptions that it held territorial claims to the Greek province of Macedonia, lifted a big obstacle to Macedonia joining NATO and the European Union, a move the West believes would help stem Russian influence in the region. “I don’t think there is any reason not to believe that North Macedonia could become the 30th member of NATO as early as 18 months from now,” Matthew Palmer, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, told Reuters in an interview in Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo. “That is an entirely realistic target date,” he said, praising the breakthrough agreement in June between Greece and Macedonia as the “most significant positive development” in efforts by Western Balkans states to achieve EU and NATO ties. He noted that NATO had already invited Macedonia to join the alliance and the process could move quickly upon full implementation of the name change accord, which must still be ratified by the Macedonian and Greek parliaments. Still, Palmer voiced concern about the “malign influence” of Russia both in Macedonia and in other countries of the Western Balkans - Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo. He accused Russia of trying to undermine governments and institutions in an effort to halt the region’s progress towards EU and NATO integration. Moscow has denied such accusations, accusing the West in turn of meddling in the Western Balkans. “It’s not up to Russia to decide what Macedonia may or may not do in terms of how they associate themselves with European and Euro-Atlantic institutions,” Palmer said, referring to Russian criticism of the Macedonian government. “Efforts to undermine the expressed will of the Macedonian public are destabilizing and damaging to the regional peace and security,” he added. Palmer said the United States supported dialogue between Serbia and its former province of Kosovo, which obtained independence after a 1998-99 war, and wanted them to return to negotiations. “Agreement between Belgrade and Pristina would be a great step forward after (Macedonia’s name change deal),” he said, adding that Washington opposed the 100 percent tariffs imposed last month by Kosovo on Serbian and Bosnian goods. Kosovo has said it will retain the tariffs until Belgrade recognizes it as an independent state. Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Mark Heinrich Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-macedonia-nato-usa/u-s-sees-macedonia-in-nato-in-mid-2020-after-name-change-deal-idUSKBN1O31ZU PERSONAL COMMENT: The Republic of North Macedonia. Shit that's a big shift for the government in Pristina, I remember this issue flaring years ago and the "Macedonians" investing substantial sums of money in jazzing up their capital to look specifically like it is from Greek antiquity. They seemed adamant that they would keep that name. I guess dat sweet NATO love is a strong temptation.
  13. A North Dakota laboratory is one of a handful that test refined coal to ensure it reduces pollution enough to quality for lucrative U.S. environmental subsidies – but those results often don’t translate into real-world improvements at power plants. By TIM MCLAUGHLIN Filed Dec. 4, 2018, 2 p.m. GMT “Clean” coal is a rich vein for American investors to mine, thanks to a lucrative subsidy offered by the U.S. government. For many producers of the fuel, the path to profit leads through a laboratory at the University of North Dakota. The school’s Energy and Environmental Research Center reported earning about $5 million in fiscal 2015-16 performing laboratory tests that qualify clean-coal producers for the subsidy. On any given day, EERC technicians take a sample of up to one ton of the coal from a producer and burn it in a miniature boiler to determine whether it reduces a specific pollutant enough to make the grade. A stamp of approval from EERC, or a handful of other labs serving the industry, unlocks a tax credit worth more than $7 a ton to producers and their investors. The subsidy, enjoyed by more than 50 clean-coal operations stretching from West Virginia to Wyoming, costs U.S. taxpayers about $1 billion annually. Technically speaking, EERC’s services aren’t necessary to win the credit. Producers simply need to prove that their product, also known as refined coal, is cutting their emissions of targeted pollutants – a 20 percent cut in nitrogen oxide output plus a 40 percent reduction in mercury. To do that, they can submit the comprehensive data that’s measured around-the-clock at America’s smokestacks – in real-world conditions, instead of a lab – and reported regularly to the Environmental Protection Agency. But almost all investors choose instead to pay laboratories like EERC for testing that lasts one day, according to industry executives and disclosures by refined coal producers to environmental regulators. The reason: The lab results almost always show a bigger cut in pollution than the real-world data. And the reductions demonstrated in the labs often do not translate to actual pollution reductions at power plants, according to a Reuters analysis of EPA data, interviews with utility executives, and disclosures by power plants. The testing regimen casts doubt on whether the subsidy works as intended, said Ron Sahu, an environmental engineer who has consulted with utilities, the EPA and the U.S. Justice Department on power plant emissions. “That’s a huge leap to give a tax credit based on results from a highly idealized lab test,” he said. John Harju, the EERC’s vice president of strategic partnerships, said the tests are valid and objective measures of performance. “We do the tests, and the results are what they are,” he said. Refined coal appears effective in reducing mercury emissions at actual power plants. But it shows little sign of reducing emissions of nitrogen oxide, or NOx, a key element in creating smog and acid rain and a primary target of the subsidy program, according to a Reuters analysis of EPA data, interviews with industry officials, and regulatory disclosures. Between 2009, before utilities began burning refined coal, and 2017, the last year for which full-year data is available, NOx pollution rates declined 19 percent among power plants burning refined coal, compared to 29 percent at plants burning raw coal, according to the Reuters analysis of EPA emissions data. Over the same period, 22 of the 56 U.S. utilities that burned refined coal actually recorded higher NOx emissions rates. Only 18 of them recorded a cut of 20 percent or more. “It’s one of those things that should come with a label that says, ‘Mileage may vary in the field,’” said Martin Hopper, general manager of the MSR Public Power Agency in Modesto, California, which co-owns New Mexico’s San Juan Generating Station. The Internal Revenue Service, which administers the tax credit program, agreed to accept lab results from subsidy applicants a decade ago. That move came after investors argued to U.S. Treasury and IRS officials in 2007 that lab-controlled tests make it easier to isolate how refined coal performs, eliminating complicating factors at play in a full-sized boiler, according to David Lowman, a partner at law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, who represented the industry in the negotiations. The IRS declined to comment on its decision. “When issuing guidance, the IRS and Treasury invite comments concerning our requirements and, based on this, updates can be made to better administer the law,” the U.S. tax agency said in a statement. FAILING REAL-WORLD TESTS Over the past decade, the IRS has handed out billions of dollars of refined coal subsidies to companies on the basis of test results that show they are producing a cleaner-burning form of coal. The semi-annual lab tests often don’t reflect the reality at power plants. That’s because plants generally do not operate under optimal conditions for reducing NOx while burning refined coal, according utility officials and power plant disclosures to environmental regulators. A typical power plant’s NOx emission rate often fluctuates as operators adjust the flow of air to the combustion chamber and other equipment to meet demands on the facility to produce electricity. Coal that burns hot and fast during wide-open air flow, for example – a setting used when demand surges – will produce more NOx pollution than coal burning at lower temperatures with lower air flow. In 2010, the IRS said it altered its testing requirements in a way that allowed labs to use different air control settings in the two different tests needed to compare refined coal to raw coal, according to a January 2011 article by two Ernst & Young executives in The Tax Adviser magazine. Although the agency’s reasoning for the change was unclear, the article said the practical effect would be to make the tests easier to pass. The IRS and EERC declined to comment on the policy change. The EERC said in a statement to Reuters that it has used substantially reduced airflows while burning refined coal, resulting in lower NOx emissions for the same energy output. The price of emissions credits under the U.S. cap and trade program can also influence a power plant’s rate of pollution. Coal plants that purchase the credits are allowed to emit more pollution, and in recent years it has been cheaper to buy credits than to run pollution-control equipment at peak effectiveness. As a result, a plant burning refined coal can see its NOx levels spike if pollution controls are turned down or off, regardless of the type of coal it burns, EPA data shows. “Refined coal is just one of many factors that influence real-time NOx levels,” said Erin Culbert, a spokeswoman for Duke Energy, the largest U.S. utility. And when utilities decide to burn refined coal, tax credit investors – often Wall Street firms – have no control over how utility owners run their coal plants. Several utilities have told environmental regulators that they tried to demonstrate pollution reductions big enough to qualify for the subsidy at actual plants, but failed, according to their disclosures. During a trial run using refined coal at the Stanton Energy Center in Orlando, Florida, in 2010, NOx emission rates increased by 10 percent compared to raw coal, instead of declining. Two other trial runs at Stanton that year proved inconclusive, according to a copy of the results viewed by Reuters. The plant ultimately decided not to burn refined coal, according to regulatory filings. Stanton declined to comment for this story. Coal plants achieve most of their reduction in smog pollution through investments in other technology, including equipment that works like the catalytic converter in a car or truck to convert NOx into benign nitrogen and water. Or they cut pollutants by simply switching from coal to cleaner natural gas, or by using a mix of both fuels. The Brunner Island power plant in Pennsylvania, for example, reduced its NOx emission rate by 63 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, thanks to new natural gas burners and piping, said Todd Martin, a spokesman for Talen Energy, owner of the coal plant. Some utilities have conceded that they can’t replicate the lab test results they use to win the subsidy at their power plants. St. Louis-based utility Ameren Corp told regulators in 2013 that it was not confident that a 21 percent NOx reduction achieved by refined coal at EERC could be replicated in the field if it burned the product, according to correspondence with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources related to permitting for a facility near St Louis. Ameren has two plants in the state that have generated refined coal tax credits for Goldman Sachs and Alabama-based Coal Emissions Reduction Technologies LLC, investors in the facilities that produce clean coal ultimately burned by Ameren. Ameren declined to comment on refined coal’s ability to reduce NOx. The Alabama investment group did not return phone calls seeking comment. The two plants burned 6.7 million tons of refined coal in 2017, according to EIA. At the 2018 tax credit amount of $7.03 per ton, using that much refined coal would yield nearly $47 million in annual tax credits. Ameren said it uses a number of different strategies to reduce pollution at its plants, including refined coal. “Those strategies have resulted in … significant reductions in (sulfur dioxide), NOx and mercury emissions,” Ameren said in a statement. Whelan Energy Center in Hastings, Nebraska, also burns refined coal, but mainly as a way to cut mercury emissions and to benefit from the subsidy. Plant officials never considered using clean coal for reducing smog pollution because they don’t believe it’s effective, said Marty Stange, environmental supervisor at Hastings Utilities, an owner of the plant. “We never really looked at it for NOx reduction,” he said. The laboratory testing is a much safer bet for companies to qualify for the refined coal tax credit. It’s unusual for a clean-coal sample to fail an emissions test in a lab setting, said Murray Abbott, president of Chem-Mod LLC, the leading supplier of chemicals used for refined coal’s emission reductions. Murray said plants usually can’t reproduce the cuts his company’s chemicals achieve in lab results because utilities typically run their plants with power production and costs in mind, not just emissions reductions. “It’s tough to show the same level of emission reductions at full scale,” he said. GO-TO LAB The EERC lab in Grand Forks is a popular destination for refined coal tax-credit investors, according to contract disclosures by the school. Utility DTE, for example, paid EERC $581,000 to conduct an undisclosed number of refined coal emissions tests at its North Dakota lab in fiscal 2015-2016, according to EERC contract disclosures. DTE's refined coal operations generated $103 million in tax credits that year, according to DTE's annual report. DTE declined to comment on the testing of its coal at EERC labs. EERC was well placed to become the refined coal industry’s laboratory for testing after the subsidy was adopted in 2004. EERC was officially founded in 1951 as the Robertson Lignite Research Laboratory, a federal facility under the U.S. Bureau of Mines that tested the qualities of different types of coal. The $5 million in revenue EERC generated in the 2016-16 fiscal year amounted to 14 percent of its total grants and contracts, according to University of North Dakota budget disclosures. “It's a fair chunk of work around here,” said the EERC’s Harju. Highlighting EERC’s central role, Republican Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota referred to its lab testing when he introduced legislation in February to extend the refined coal tax credit after it expires in 2021. “This would not only benefit the coal-generating power plants in North Dakota that use refined coal, it will also support the work of the EERC, which provides services to facilities around the nation to verify that the refined coal meets the standards required to claim the credit,” Hoeven said in a press release. And in April, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry named Harju to the National Coal Council, a federal advisory board for formulating coal policy. EERC’s small test boilers are designed to mimic the performance of actual power plants, lab officials say. Its combustion test facility has an output capacity of less than 1 megawatt per hour, compared to at least several hundred megawatts per hour at a typical coal plant. The lab uses several devices to simulate pollution control equipment in place at a utility, such as scrubbers. Asked whether the boiler settings are fine-tuned to improve refined coal’s environmental performance, Harju said he was not an expert in such technical details. EERC declined to comment on how often its clients fail to pass its laboratory tests, but Chem-Mod’s Abbott said such failures are rare. EERC officials declined to provide further technical specifics about its testing process. “We’re just an independent validator of performance,” Harju said. “It’s an arm’s-length effort.” https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-coal-labs/ PERSONAL COMMENT: Clean coal seems like a phantom tech to me.
×